Mother’s Day is an opportunity to tell mom how much she is appreciated. Although it can include pampering her with breakfast in bed or giving her a thoughtful gift, it is the expressed gratitude that seems to mean the most to moms. If you poll mothers, they don’t always remember the gifts they received, but they have kept the cards and notes received over the years reflecting a loving thank you.
This Mother’s Day I thought about all of this in the context of relationships that have ended. Is appreciation expressed enough despite the end of the adult relationship? The parent is still a parent, even if no longer a partner. So why is it so hard to just say thanks?
Children of divorce are statistically at higher risk for behavioral problems, drug use, depression, and dropping out of school. It takes a lot of time, effort, and emotional connection for parents to help their children overcome those odds. When they do, is the other parent saying “thank you?”
So much of what divorce lawyers see is parents tearing each other down, fighting for what the parent thinks is fair. In the midst of this, reality is a bit distorted. The focus becomes on everything the other parent does wrong. But, can a parent really be as bad as argued if the children in their primary care are successful, beating the kid-of-divorce odds, and growing into lovely, responsible adults? That parent must be doing something right given the developing end product!
How would the case between parents change if one would thank the other for the hard work and love put into parenting? How would the parents’ future co-parenting improve if the appreciation and gratitude were stated? These gestures and expressions are obvious in an in-tact marriage. Why do they dissipate when that relationship ends? The parent-child relationship does not end. The skills and fortitude needed to parent do not suddenly end. So, why is it so difficult to say “thank you for doing a great job as a parent for our children?”
Here is my challenge—next year, send the mother of your children a Mother’s Day card, not from the child, but from you – “thank you for the great children we have and all your efforts that have resulted in their success.” See what positive results develop. I wouldn’t be surprised if that card stays on the top of the keepsake cards kept safely over the years.